Afghan Imprisoned for Christian Faith
Thousands of NATO and ISAF soldiers killed, billions in aid. We’re fighting for this?
Washington, D.C. (November 16, 2010) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that an Afghan convert to Christianity has been held in prison for nearly six months. He has not been formally charged, given legal representation or equal protection. He is scheduled to appear in court on November 21st.
Sayed Mossa was arrested in late May after footage was nationally televised of Afghan Christians being baptized and participating in prayer gatherings. The broadcast triggered protests throughout the country and calls to execute Christians – including from a deputy leader in parliament.
Mossa, a father of six and an amputee with a prosthetic leg, explained in a letter written from Oullayat prison in Kabul that he had been beaten, forcefully sleep deprived, and sexually abused by prisoners. He added that Afghan judicial officers granted him no protection and at times encouraged the abuse.
In the letter Mossa pleaded for international intervention. For this reason, ICC is publishing Mossa’s letter and an accompanying fact sheet released from inside Afghanistan and signed “Concerned in Kabul” (see below). ICC and others have alerted Western governments and appealed for Mossa’s release. While diplomatic efforts have effectively moved Mossa to a safer prison, there is no indication that he will soon be released.
Afghanistan is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). According to article 18, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “An Afghan Christian has been unjustly imprisoned, beaten and sexually abused without any formal charge held against him. Soon he will stand trial without representation in front of a Muslim court and may be asked to renounce his Christian beliefs. His response to that question – whether to stand firm in his faith or return to Islam – may determine his fate. In a country where NATO and ISAF soldiers are dying on average at more than one a day and where billions of dollars in international aid is spent to ensure a stable democratic society where fundamental freedoms are respected, it is hard to justify such sacrifices supporting a government that practices similar human rights restrictions that existed under the Taliban.”
For interviews, contact ICC: 800-422-5441.
Statement from Kabul
Despite Afghanistan being a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which Article 18 states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” And the Afghan Constitution Article 7 which states: “The state shall abide by the UN Charter, international treaties, international conventions that Afghanistan has signed and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:”
- Sayed Mossa, an Afghan citizen and 15 year employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul Afghanistan, was arrested on May 31, 2010, for being a convert to Christianity from Islam.
- He has been held since that time in prison.
- For two months Sayed Mossa’s family could not find out from the authorities or the International Committee of the Red Cross where Sayed Mossa was being held.
- While in prison, he was abused verbally, physically, and sexually by prison authorities and other prisoners.
- Though he has tried to obtain legal representation, no Afghan lawyer has been willing to represent him.
- The following agencies have been appealed to about this human rights violation: The United States Embassy in Afghanistan, The French Embassy in Afghanistan, The British Embassy in Afghanistan, The Netherlands Embassy in Afghanistan, The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland and in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights, United Nations Afghanistan (UNAMA), European Union in Afghanistan, International Police Coordination Board in Afghanistan, Rule of Law Coordinator.
- Sayed Mossa’s family has been denied access to his file which includes the charges against him.
- Sayed Mossa is currently being held at the Kabul Detention Center in the Governor’s Compound.
- Sayed Mossa is scheduled to appear in court Sunday, November 21, 2010.
Concerned in Kabul
Letter from Sayed Mossa